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Homeowner at 68

2023-11-13  Eveline de Klerk

Homeowner at 68

WALVIS BAY - Owning a home one day is everyone’s dream, but this is sometimes a distant dream and almost impossible if you are already at retirement age.

However, ouma Regina Hirschfeld has beaten the odds by becoming a first-time homeowner at the age of 68.

After years of renting and sleepless nights of not knowing how to pay rent, the grandmother of three finally became a homeowner through the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN).

The pensioner was one of the 66 people in Narraville, Walvis Bay, who recently became first-time homeowners due to the fact that they could not access financial systems earlier to buy houses.

“I have never owned a house of my own. I was just renting around Walvis Bay. Initially, I stayed in town, but moved to Narraville after my husband died. During that time, I rented on my own, and stayed with family as well. It was always a struggle,” Hirschfeld said while receiving her keys from the minister of urban and rural development, Erastus Uutoni.

The 66 homes were handed over to the new homeowners last week by the minister.

Narrating her struggles, the sexagenarian said after becoming a pensioner, she was not able to pay her rent and was assisted by her son, who recently also lost his job.  Her last rental accommodation was N$3 500 a month. 

“My shoes broke while walking to those meetings, but I am not sorry, as I am witnessing the fruits of my hard work.

 

It was not nice, and at one stage we wanted to give up, but we pushed through. Rent is extremely expensive. Living from my pension, my son was assisting me. But he was retrenched in December last year. But today, I am here because of my pension and his financial support,” an emotional Hirschfeld said.

During her struggles, she learned about the SDFN, and joined. She thus started saving during those weekly meetings.

“I was 55 when I joined the SDFN in 2007, and I have saved since then. I built my home with those savings and assistance from the federation,” she added.

Today, she is happy that she persevered, and is now finally looking forward to extending her house with the assistance of her children, and sharing her home with her grandchildren.

Francisco Maree, SDFN facilitator in Walvis Bay, agrees that their journey for the new homes Bay started in 2007 when they applied for land, which the municipality donated in 2010.

They are all low-income earners and comprise pensioners, domestic workers and small business owners who came together to reach their ultimate goal. 

“We wanted to be homeowners, and were happy for the opportunity presented by the federation. Our journey was not easy, as Narraville presented unique challenges with its dunes and difficult terrain, making the servicing costs prohibitively high. Yet, even in the face of these obstacles, our community remained resolute,” Maree stated.

 Uutoni said government annually allocates N$10 million to the federation, while partners Standard Bank, Ohorongo Cement, First National Bank and the Pupkewitz Foundation have donated a combined N$18 million since 2016.

 The government, he added, is in the process of amending the country’s housing policy to accommodate more low-income earners, who represent about 52% of the population.

“With the policy, we aim to increase our contribution as the government recognises the contributions to the country’s housing needs made by the SDFN. If the private financial sector is not careful, most of the people will flock to the federation due to this. It will be a learning process, but we will see how private financing could reduce the prices so that our young men and women in uniform can also afford it because it is a problem for them to take out a house loan worth a million dollars,” he continued.

Currently, the housing demand in Walvis Bay stands at over 30 000 units. However, the Walvis Bay town council has identified several blocks of land, including Farm 37, to address the current housing needs of the town.

- edeklerk@nepc.com.na

Photo: Homeowner

Caption: 


2023-11-13  Eveline de Klerk

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